This is where we gather from time to time to talk about something big in the Padres world or just the Padres or just baseball. It’s a roundtable discussion. Except, you know, no round tables. This is a Public House . . . so we’re at the bar.
Yesterday morning, Tom Garfinkel resigned as CEO of the Padres. We waited to hear more, but it seems that everyone with knowledge of the situation is being tight-lipped about it. The people who know things aren’t hearing anything, and us yahoos definitely haven’t a clue. So going on what we know, what say you, Padres Public, on the departure of Tom Garfinkel?
Ghost of Ray Kroc
I’ll be honest, I expected something like this a year ago when the O’Seidlers’ [Patent Pending] took control of the team. The fact that it took nearly a full year to happen is still a bit of a shock though.
The Sac Bunt (Melvin)
Josh Byrnes is under contract until Austin Hedges’ retirement in 2031, so I think he’s feeling OK.
Avenging Jack Murphy
I wasn’t surprised that Tom stuck around for the last year. The new ownership tried to give some semblance of continuity and keeping Garf provided that.
Would this resignation have come if the Padres had gone 8-2 over their last 10 games?
Left Coast Bias
It would seem an odd decision to fire him over a 10 game losing streak instead of, say, a manager, coach or GM. Not that I’m advocating for that, simply that that would appear to be a move more related to baseball. I have no idea how involved (or not involved) Garfinkel was in baseball operations. I know some place the blame of the Adrian and Peavy trade at his feet. Fair? Toa degree. He was the President afterall.
I’ll say this. He made the fan experience at the park and on social media more interesting. It’s an entertainment product in the end. And they made Petco a fun experience. He was engaged with fans. I liked that. And that will be missed in my opinion.
I haven’t always seen eye to eye with him but he’s genuinely a good guy. He seemed out of place in his position with the Padres, as normally in that role the person should have some pretty decent on the field baseball knowledge and I felt that he lacked that.
I wish him nothing but the best in the future and we’ll always have him to thank for Breakfasttown USA.
I don’t think the streak pushed him out but that would have been weird if he had resigned when the Padres were in 1st. It also would have been very strange if the Padres were ever in 1st in 2013.
I highly doubt that this streak had anything to do with it. Garfinkel never seemed to have a whole lot of influence on the baseball operations side of things, at least to me. His role, and his strength, seemed to be the ballpark and fan experience. Like the little league uniforms. Great PR move, but nothing to do with baseball operations.
Nothing lasts forever, but Garfinkel leaving is a loss to this franchise. Based on responses on Twitter not all think that way, which I think is unfortunate. I also don’t think Garfinkel had significant say in baseball decisions, as several of us have already mentioned. I imagine he was high enough up to sit in on those discussions if he wanted to, but scouting/drafting/roster/payroll are all covered by other departments.
Garfinkel was a capable face of this franchise. He was accessible via twitter, season ticket meetings, you name it. Let’s face it, the Padres fight for fans and recognition locally with other regional baseball teams, not to mention other attractions in the local area. They need a face of the franchise out selling the product. Garfinkel did a pretty good job selling the product. He was also responsive. Can you imagine another franchise getting ripped by bloggers over their giveaway schedule and actually listening to the feedback? I think he had a lot to do with the added promotions we’re starting to see. His job would have been much easier given a consistently better team on the field, but he managed to do quite well in spite of that significant handicap.
We can hope his ultimate replacement is of like mind.
While I agree that Tom Garfinkel did a lot of good when it came to shaking hands, kissing babies, and selling breakfast, I’m not entirely convinced that his work in San Diego was such a sweeping success. That’s not to say he was absent of great ideas – the Little League uniforms, increased local concessions options, and social media savvy all stand out – or a joy to speak to. Quite the opposite, given that Internet personalities can be an ornery bunch. He definitely took the time to talk to fans and seemed to honestly engage them in a way that was refreshing. In that regard, I hope the current front office learns from his example because I haven’t been especially impressed with the way Ron Fowler or Peter Seidler have presented themselves to this point.
That said, I’m not so sure I agree that Garfinkel needed to revel in the spotlight like he did, or be the face of the front office. I’m not sure anybody does. And while he might not have had a significant say in baseball operations – a claim that Josh Byrnes also made on 1090 this afternoon – I do feel he fancied himself a bit of a baseball guy and his responses during public appearances often left him sounding out of his element. Now, I don’t consider myself the ideal target audience for a lot of his speeches, but it always felt like a pitch and I think it distracted from the baseball on the field and – well – the product he was selling. For all the talk about what a great salesman he was, I kind of feel he stood in the way of the product he was selling. We have his inclusion in all team photos as evidence of that.
Perhaps this is just unreasonable expectations given that I’m also a Tampa Bay Rays fan or an ignorant refusal to see how the sausage is made, but I’d like to believe that a team can sell itself without marketing their marketing guru. I’ll miss all the good that Garfinkel did here, but I do feel like this was an opportune time to leave – for him and the franchise. Fair or not, he was undoubtedly the face of the old guard. Nearly a half dozen Moorad holdovers still exist in the owner’s box, so I don’t believe this was a thorough exorcism; it was more symbolic than anything else and oddly fitting given that his departure was a carefully orchestrated bit of salesmanship. However, the new ownership group is supposed to be about the expertise and experience of the O’Malley and Seidler families and they now get to handpick their next point man.
Wish Garfinkel all the best and I’m sure he’ll do fine wherever he lands, whether it be MLB, NBA, NASCAR, etc. It’s just time to see what the new ownership group can do without him. I’m never a fan of a team moving in several different directions and, by all accounts, this represents that clean break necessary to move forward in harmony. I hope they don’t squander this opportunity.
Also, might I add that Garfinkel’s imminent departure was the worst-kept secret ever. I kind of feel that speaks for itself when it comes to the front office distancing itself from the past follies of its predecessors.
Yes he listened Met, but why is a “blogger” telling him how to do his job? The awful promotional schedule seemed like common sense to me. Granted, I am in the marketing field, I still suspect that Garf has a ton more experience than me.
Well obviously we shouldn’t have to tell him how. Maybe that’s why he resigned.
My prevailing opinion is that most baseball clubs don’t give a hoot what their blogger community has to say. I’m sure someone in the organization reads through every post that’s put up from the popular sites, for situational awareness if nothing else, but our opinions don’t matter when it comes to big corporate decisions or direction of the franchise. They probably shouldn’t; we don’t have all the information available to the front office to make truly informed decisions.
I got the impression that Garfinkel at least listened. I think that’s unique. It is naive to connect the several promotional posts Rick did directly to the revised promotional schedule but I can’t help but believe those posts exerted influence on the changes.
Then again, I had no idea he was getting ready to leave. Shows you how much I know.
While I agree with Rick that it is somewhat telling that it took “people who write…on the internet” to tell him that the promotional schedule was lacking and needed a change I also think it says something about Garf that he recognized a misstep, listened to a relatively vocal portion of the fan base, and made those changes. It does seem odd that he was so public and visible as the Padres President. But as Met points out, and I agree, he did a pretty good job of selling a product that is tough to sell. Win/Loss record aside, San Diego is more a football town and is limited in it’s ability to grow the Padre fan base by an international border, an ocean, nothingness, and OC/LA. He did a good job getting people to the park and creating a fun ballpark experience to lure some people away from whatever distraction they otherwise would enjoy.
Nobody, to my knowledge, has shown to have a grudge against Tom Garfinkel here. By all accounts, he was professional, a personable guy with a good sense of humor who did fairly good work marketing the Padres brand. I personally hold no grudges towards the guy and believe he gave nothing short of his all while with the organization. We can argue over the baseline expectations established by his predecessors some other time, but I feel that we’re sidestepping an important point here: was he qualified to become the President/Chief Executive Officer of the Padres to begin with? I ask because, looking over a list of his contemporaries, his name sticks out like a sore thumb.
For better or worse, his name doesn’t seem to fit with the likes of Theo Epstein, Matt Silverman, John Schuerholz, Mark Shapiro, Jon Daniels, Larry Lucchino, etc. Obviously, there are always exceptions and each market presents a unique opportunity and skill set to succeed. It’s just that those guys, for the most part, have extensive baseball operations experience. Perhaps that’s the difference in philosophy that finally closed his chapter in San Diego.
Vocal Minority (David)
I once referred to Tom Garfinkel as a “professional turd polisher”. I think I meant it as an insult at the time, but I definitely feel it’s more of a compliment now. I took issue with someone coming in from out of town and telling San Diego who they are and what they like. I still do, actually. When the new ownership group came in, my issue with keeping Garfinkel wasn’t so much with Garfinkel himself, but with wanting to rid the team of any connections to the Moorad regime(you know, aside from the numerous part owners who are still here). On one hand, Garfinkel is very good at what he does. Do I think what he does was good for the San Diego Padres? Well, we’ll find out. I think the focus was more on bread and circuses and less on putting a winning product on the field. As if to create a good ballpark experience, because the home team probably won’t be very good.
I’ve seen some comments that he made no more a significant mark on the Padres than, say, Bob Vizas. I think that’s garbage. Bob Vizas was a fall guy for two bad Kevin Towers contracts, an otherwise insignificant footnote in Padres history. Garfinkel, on the other hand, is either well-regarded or loathed by the fans who follow the team closely (obviously, some of us fall in the middle). I had some issues with how things went with the front office, but thought fan outreach was great. Was it due to Garfinkel or his staff, or the obvious and fast-changing landscape with social media and how businesses interact with their customers? I don’t know. We’ll give them credit on this one, though. On the negative side, issues like the bad promotional schedule or screwing fans out of their season seats for games vs. the Yankees show me a very reactive side to Garf’s Padres. They listened, but shouldn’t those things haven been done right in the first place?
Last year, a friend of mine was treated very poorly by the Padres season ticket staff, and Garf personally took care of the problem. I mean personally. I just can’t recall hearing of a CEO doing something like that. I also found him to be very friendly personally, and a good sport in response to the crap I’d give him. I wish him luck in his endeavors.
If you haven’t passed out yet, pull up a stool and let’s shoot the shit…